Health concerns trump finances for younger boomers nearing retirement: Poll

Caregiving role can impact stress levels, hours worked

As they approach retirement, Canada's younger boomers (aged 50-59) are focusing on health concerns over finances, with 70 per cent ranking changes to their physical health highest on the list of top challenges they expect to face as retirees, according to an RBC poll.

Finances ranked a distant second, with 57 per cent expecting changes to income to be a challenge during retirement. Within these rankings, men (73 per cent) are particularly concerned about changes to their health, compared to women (66 per cent), found the 2013 RBC Retirement Myths & Realities Poll.

"Younger boomers are more health-conscious as they near and enter retirement. Watching their older relatives and friends age has made this generation more aware that good health is not something to take for granted," said Amalia Costa, head of retirement strategies and successful aging at RBC. "What they aren't yet as aware of, however, is that health issues of their loved ones may have an impact on their retirement plans — not only on their finances, but also in terms of time commitment and emotional stress."

While four in 10 younger boomers don't expect health or disability constraints to ever change their lifestyle or independence, 27 per cent reported that a significant health issue or decline has affected them or someone in their family within the past year. At the same time, 42 per cent said being a caregiver to another adult was a support role they had already performed, were doing now or expected to do in future, found the survey of 2,159 adults aged 50 and over with household assets of at least $100,000.

Some of the impact of that caregiving include:

•a significant increase in stress levels (50 per cent)

•significant out-of-pocket expenses (24 per cent)

•moving/making accommodation changes (18 per cent)

•reducing the number of paid hours worked (15 per cent)

"Caregivers nearing retirement are often particularly affected, as they can find themselves looking after elderly parents as well as their spouses or partners and other aging family members and friends. It's important for all caregivers to know they are not alone, that there are very helpful resources readily available to assist them,” said Audrey Miller, managing director of Elder Caring.

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